With all of the innuendo about Charlottesville Police Chief, Al Thomas, and his alleged “stand down” order to officers during Charlottesville’s August 12 riots, another such order has gone largely unnoticed.
During the December 4, 2017 Charlottesville City Council meeting, local activist, Tanesha Hudson, was berating Mayor Michael Signer, for his violation of Charlottesville’s permit regulations, during Signer’s illegal “Capital of the Resistance” rally in January. Ms. Hudson correctly asserted that Signer should apologize for his rally, because Signer’s defiance of the law led to the City’s inability to enforce its existing permit regulations on August 12.
Hudson was not recognized to speak, and after attempting to placate her, the Mayor called Ms. Hudson “out of order.” Charlottesville City Council meeting procedures clearly bar disorderly conduct, and violators are subject to removal from the chambers:
Any speaker who violates the rules will be called to order by the Mayor. If the remarks or conduct persists, the Mayor shall order the speaker to cease speaking and be seated. If the order is not heeded, the Mayor shall direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to escort the individual from the meeting room.
Previously, Mayor Signer has not hesitated to enforce removal of violators who are not popular with the assembled mob; to these unfortunate victims of political duplicity, the council rules are strictly applied.
In Ms. Hudson’s case, the council horde was solidly aligned. Thus, the Mayor shirked his duties and ignored the rules, allowing Hudson to continue speaking out of turn.
A stationed Charlottesville police officer reacting to the fracas, engaged with Ms. Hudson in an attempt to reestablish order. Immediately, Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy barked a thinly veiled “stand down” order to the police officer from the Council dais, “Officer, she’s fine. She’s fine. She’s fine.” Mayor Signer, sensing a public relations disaster, chimed in with his own chorus of, “she’s fine, she’s fine.”
Following his public reprimand, the hapless officer turned away from his duties and slunk to the back of the room.
There should be no wonder that the climate of chaos continues in Charlottesville City Hall. Longstanding Council practices of chicanery, dishonesty, artifice, and double-dealing in their engagement with the public, have come home to roost. The “rule of man” has supplanted the “rule of law” in Charlottesville, and until that dangerous inequity is rectified, there will be no justice and there will be no peace—for anyone in Charlottesville.